san jose portrait photographer

How to rock back to school pictures {Morgan Hill and San Jose Family Photographer}

Today, I’d like to chat a little about ways how you can rock back to school pictures. No matter what camera you have. No matter what props you want to use or how much time you have. You don’t have to follow all those steps. Focus on one if you want, and you will see a huge improvement in your experience! Save yourself sanity, and at the same time create fun memories.

Don’t over think it. Don’t overstress!

The steps in this post are named by the excuses many of the parents have in order to not to do the back-to-school pictures of their kids. Many just rather go with snapping a quick image on the 1st day while the kids are running out the door (already late!)

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

Here are the excuses (aka steps) and how to overcome them:

1.”My kid doesn’t want to go with MY IDEAS.”

No biggie. In years of working with kids on a different level of excitement when it comes to being photographed, it is important to just let it go. Sometimes. Pick your fights wisely, I say.

Breathe in and then breathe out. Then go with the flow. You have to be able to sacrifice your super great ideas for having any pictures at all.

I know it all too well, myself.

I have a girl who’s always willing to do what I come up with + some of her crazy ideas.

I also have a girl who often changes her mind as quickly as a woman (only) can do it. By the time I’m ready to click the shutter button, she’s already changed her mind and doesn’t want to do what we earlier established. She doesn’t want to wear what I put on her. And she doesn’t want to be at that particular location anymore.

AND if we don’t change it immediately, well, I might as well put my camera back in my bag and forget about everything.

Ok! I’m exaggerating the whole picture, but you know what I’m talking about. If not… well, you’re lucky! haha!

how to rock back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

As I mentioned before, just go with the flow. After you done with photographing what the little one had in mind for the whole session (this is exactly what’s going to happen in many, many cases!), add fun text in Photoshop or Canva. You can also use phone editing apps to add text (something like Snapseed)

 

2. “I don’t have any props.”

Backpack. Lunchbox. Cute glasses. Cute hairstyle. Fun outfit. And you good to go.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

Don’t forget about documenting the details. You might remember them today. In a few years, they’ll become just a foggy blur. You’ll be happy you took pictures of the cute socks or the cute lunch box your kid was using in 1st or 2nd or 6th grade.

back to school pictures, morgan hill family photographer

3. “I don’t have any interesting background”

Yes, you do! 

Just declutter a small space on your backyard / front yard.

Walk your kid to school and take a picture with school buses in the background. (but wait for most of the crowd to disappear).

Just remember to avoid photographing your kids in front of the school sign with the whole name and address on it! Please keep your kids safe. Nobody has to know where your kids go to school. I know it’s easy to figure those things out, but why make it easy on the wrong kind of people.

Go to the park. Go to the library.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

Just remember to ask for a permission if you’re planning to take pictures in buildings and other public places. Be careful with that. You might not get in trouble if you’re a private person shooting your own kids, but just to be safe. It doesn’t hurt to ask. 

Note side: Thank you to Morgan Hill Library for being a part of my daughter’s stylized photo shoot. Check their FB page for more shots from adventures of my private Pippi Longstocking. 

 

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

4. “The whole day is SO HECTIC. I just don’t have the time!!! And I didn’t even have MY COFFEE yet” – says every mom on the 1st day of school. 

Yep! That’s why back to school pictures don’t have to (or even shouldn’t) be done ON THAT PARTICULAR DAY (the 1st day of school). The kids don’t care. They will be happy if you throw an idea out there for dressing up and going out to goof off with the school supplies and what not.

Go for a walk the day before the 1st day of school.

Don’t forget to do it during the golden hour for easier shooting and for not having to deal with the harsh light. I often don’t do it because I like to make my life harder, every chance I get. And I actually like to work with all kinds of light and the full bright sun doesn’t scare me that much. However, to save your sanity and to get really nice images of your kids, just wait to one hour before the sunset and then go out and shoot!

If not the day before then wait for the weekend to come, and then get them out and play with all their school supplies.

For most of the time, they will be more relaxed and ready to be themselves.
Because who is him/herself on the 1st day of school??!?!?!

back to school pictures, san jose family photographe

 

5. If you have more than one kiddo, try to “catch” them together. 

In our case, getting these two together in one picture is like trying to catch a fish with bare hands.

So, if I was able to do it, YOU CAN DO IT, too!

Ask them to touch their noses. Or ask them to tickle each other. Anything to get them close enough and playful enough.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

6. “I can’t take good pictures.”

Well, that’s what professional photographers are for. Just saying. 😜

 

Cheers, 

Ewa

And before you go, I felt generous today and made these very simple but colorful free printable lunch box notes. Want it, grab it. Don’t want it, don’t grab it. 

 

And if you’re feeling generous today, left a comment, share this post or send me a virtual hug. 

 

If you’d like me to photograph some of your #1st day of school adventures let me know!!! I’m here to help you create amazing memories. 

Even better, sign up for the membership to Ewa Samples Photography, so you won’t have to miss on any photo opportunities through the entire year!

 

The sweetest love story! Stranger Challenger week 6

Yesterday I witnessed the sweetest love story in the making. When I spotted them, I had a feeling there is something going on but I was not expecting it to turn so sweet.

I have to admit, as the time progresses with this project, the project itself in not getting any easier. Approaching random people is still hard. This week I procrastinated until yesterday. And Sunday is the last day to do the weekly assignment for this project.

While waiting for my clients to show up for yesterday’s Valentine’s Day Playdate I was talking to Hailey, who is my partner in crime for this project, and who came to assist me during my sessions yesterday. We both hadn’t done our “stranger challenge” for the week. She spotted someone interesting and decided to go for it. I had not other option then do the same. It was then or never.

sweetest love story san jose family photographer

Paul and Grace

In the busy park, full of people playing ball, running, and chasing their kids this couple was standing with their backs to all of that. And that made me curious. I felt there is a story to it. The picture above shows how they looked when I approached them. And yes, I asked them to do it for me. It was not taken without their knowledge.

After a short introduction and explanation about this project our conversation went like this:

Me: “Are you, gusy friends?”

Paul: “Yees”

Me: “Are you, close friends?”

Paul and Grace: “Yeees”

Me: “Girlfriend and Boyfriend?”

Paul, after a short pause and with a huge smile: “We’re working on it”

sweetest love story saratoga photographer

If you don’t think that’s the sweetest love story ever then I don’t know what is. And I was lucky enough to witness it and document it for them (or for myself! 😉 )

Oh, the places this project is taking me… Inward and outward… It’s pain to do it, but when it’s done, it’s so rewarding… It’s kind of crazy.

Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH, PAUL AND GRACE, for the opportunity you gave me. I hope your relationship will thrive. And if someday you decide to look for a family photographer, well, I’ll be here! 😃✌🏻😄 👍🏻🙃👊🏻

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Learn about portrait photography during photo walk

Join us this Thursday, January 26th for a photo walk with local, and not only, portrait photographers. We’ll be talking about portrait photography & street photography & and any photography related topics or just chit-chat. No pressure. We will probably grab some coffee or tea and just enjoy the non rainy day in a great company.

This will be a great opportunity to get together & network & connect. We will be meeting Downtown San Jose at around 9:30 am. From there, well, there is no plan where we will be heading.

portrait photography photo walk san jose ewa samples photography

 

Shoot me an email if you’re interested: ewasamples(at)gmail.com

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52 week challenge. Photographing strangers. Stranger no. 3

52-week challenge. Photographing strangers. Stranger no. 3

 

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”  

– Jordan Belfort

Sooooo, before I start describing my last week of hunting for a stranger willing to be a part of my 52-week challenge, let me ask you something:

Have you ever consciously suffocated your goals or ideas because they meant you had to get out of your comfort zone? Not once but many many times. It meant you had to try something totally new. Even in times when you felt like “new” is the last thing you want to do. You’d rather stay safe in your pj’s, eat cookie dough ice cream straight from the box. Binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. 

Because this is exactly what I was trying to do the whole week last week: I was looking for excuses.

Photographing strangers was the last thing I wanted to do. Period.

 

First of all, it was raining almost all week. The people out there looked like they don’t want to be bothered. Running from one destination to another, as fast as they could, like they were made out of sugar, and the rain could dissolve them.

I was also behind my schedule to finish a book I’d been reading. So, I wanted to stay home and just catch up with it. Next thing, probably more consciously then subconsciously, I would forget to take my DSLR with me, every single time I went out. Righ…

So fast forward to Saturday…

I was at a point where I admitted to myself, “I won’t do it this week”. I was ready to skip it, hoping the next week will be easier. But you know how it goes, right? If you skip something, then skipping it again, and again gets only easier. While sticking to your original plan gets only harder.

Late afternoon we went to grab something to eat. We stopped at “Pieology” in Morgan Hill. I was just watching the people working there while ordering our pizzas. And I thought how great of a picture it would be if I could make one of them stand next to the oven working with the pizza’s inside. All of the employees were so nice and they bravely suffered through my husband’s not funny jokes (sorry, hon!). And I felt nothing but encouraged to just give the project a try. One more time. I knew it’s then or never.

I waited until there were no people in line and went to ask. I had only my old phone with me. A phone that takes crappy pictures. A phone that has landed in a toilet twice, and in a creek once. A phone that had been declared dead more than 3 times. Its camera app doesn’t work, so I take pictures through a 3rd party app. I was not happy with the photo, but I was so proud of myself I did it anyway.

Stranger no.3 is a nameless employee of Pielogy in Morgan Hill. While I was preaching about getting to know your neighbors in my last post about this 52 week challenge of photographing strangers, this time around I was too preoccupied with my own fears and insecurities, and I simply forgot to ask.

Thank you so much, my nameless stranger for helping me to get the shot I envisioned, and to helping me getting one step closer to my goal of photographing 52 strangers in one year!!! 

Photographing strangers

 

My partners in crime in this 52-week challenge are:

Maryam Salassi from Hi and Hello Photography – Maryam is doing different 52, feel free to follow her journey.

Hailey Williams from Archer Inspired

 

Feel free to follow along!!!

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San Jose Portrait Mini-Session and the most gorgeous light!

This San Jose Portrait Mini-Session had the most gorgeous light!

but that’s not enough. That is never enough.

The light is quite a big part of a successful session. However, if the people I work with come with the open and relaxed attitude that moves the light to a second place.

Since the beginning of my business, Caroline and her family have been updating her family pictures with me regularly. Every single year we meet during our sessions and chat about photography and our kids. I always get crazy over her hair, and she is like, “well, look at your daughter’s hair, JUST WOW”. And we go on and on the entire session 😉

San Jose Portrait Mini-Session

C. is always full of praises about my older daughter’s hair, however, look at what she has herself!!! It’s just breathtaking. She comes to the session in a bun, and I always say, “please let the hair down!!!” From each session with her I come home with a bunch of new shots I immediately add to my portfolio, and to the folder with pictures to use on my new business cards.

Our last session could be probably done in 10 minutes, but we spent most of the time chatting while the kids played. She finally got to meet my Little Ones in person, and the kids immediately made friends. This was the cutest thing ever.

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Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo {San Jose Portrait Photographer}

In the recent workshop I’m taking with Donald Giannatti, up to this point, I have been inspired by (and we have studied) work of David Bailey, Gregory Heisler, Mary Ellen Mark, Francesco Scavullo, Albert Watson, Mark Seliger and Frank Ockenfels. Those names are some of the most influential portrait photographers of the last 50 years.

My head had been spinning, well, it still is, with ideas, inspirations, as well as frustrations and second guessing myself. All because this workshop has pushed me outside of my comfort zone on many occasions. Not to mention, I’d never been exposed to so much of studio work in my life as I’ve been for the past 7 weeks. And it’s a humbling experience.

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

When it comes to Francesco Scavullo, best known for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan, I simply did not want to do any glamour/fashion shots. I ended up trying something he was very known for, and what’s called these days a clamshell lighting.

I used one soft box and a small reflector, which for the self portraits I was holding on my lap, or struggling to support it with my free hand.

inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-2

Someday, I’ll look back very fondly on those moments in my garage when I had to be my own model, photographer and an assistant. And at the end, I had produced nothing close to a clam shell lighting kind of portraiture. It wasn’t funny on that day, but even today, I have a smirk on my face writing about it.

Before I got in front of the camera, I had this awesome plan to use my kids (as in most of the assignments for this workshop). Well, you know how that goes when you want your kids to do something (or not to do). They do exact the opposite. In a time when I needed them to be still they decided to make it a dance, and a hugging party.

kids photography inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-3

And because this is such a rare thing between them these days, as they are more preoccupied with fighting over their toys and crayons, I started to “dance” around with them. Yeah, you might call it a dance…  However my dance was to somehow keep the reflector underneath their faces and take photos at the same time while they wiggled. Well, now my smirk is even bigger!!!

HA! Speaking about skilled photographer…. 😉

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo
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And some behind the scene 😉

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Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Do you get frustrated when you have an idea in your head, have the tools to re-create / create the idea, but then things are not working for you.

Have you ever let it go then, and start being in the moment instead.

And then somehow you end up with things even better then your initial idea.

Because as David duChemin said today in his article, “we’ll all make much better photographs if we love our photographs more then we love our tools”.

Happy Monday!

Now off I go to think about our last assignment for this workshop: Greg Gorman

What do you have planned for this week?

 

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Celebrate Yourself with Bay Area Portrait Photographer (or by yourself) ;)

I call this project “Celebrate Yourself”, and it’s a part of my creative portrait photography journey, which I plan to evolve into something fun, and a little different then ordinary portrait photography.

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In this case, I think, it was more about celebrating myself and getting my idea out of my head, more then the subject celebrating herself. You can’t tell but she was freezing in there and all she wanted was a hot tea and a warm sweater.

Deep inside, my dear friend Iryna thinks, what I did to her on that day was a revenge for all the times I had to pose for her. Well, I didn’t have to but this is what friends are for, right?

For me, this project turned out to be a fun experiment. Not only artistically, but personally.

For me, this project was never meant to be in black and white, you know, like converting the whole picture into a black and white photograph.

I know that for most people it would make more sense. But it’s not about making sense, it’s about being true to oneself. Life doesn’t make sense most of the time. And things are never perfect, no matter how hard we try. And this was not about creating something perfect. It was about creating something that speaks me to myself (it that makes any sense).

Showcasing one of those pictures here and there I’ve already received some comments on how I could improve the image by converting it into black and white, or making the background less significant. Well, that’s not going to happen. Just saying.

celebrate_yourself_bay_area_portrait_photographer

In today’s society, people are very easy on giving you advices on how to improve anything in your life, even if they were not asked to do so. And that’s ok. Take it with a smile and move on. Say, “thank you, but, no, thank you” and do things your way. I think, the “super talent” of ignoring others opinion about oneself comes with age, though.

Whenever we get stuff out to the public we are judged, and people are very eager to give us their opinion (doesn’t matter if we asked them for it or not). We have few choices:

  • we can do what we think people expect us to do, and not be criticized for doing something unexpected and different.
  • we can stop doing anything from the fear of being intimidated by people and their opinions about our work.
  • we can be ourselves and have this attitude: “world’s opinion of me is none of my business”

My own decision is to start carrying less about what people think of me, and more about what I think of myself and how I want to feel doing things I love.

It feels good, and I wish I had this ability earlier in my life.

celebrate yourself bay area portrait photographer-2

How about you?

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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San Jose Family Photographer. Fine Art Children’s Photography.

This is definitely NOT about me complaining. Although, I have to admit, it feels really good to have delivered last photographs to clients. There are still some albums in progress, as well as wall arts, but most of it is behind me.

This is about me being happy to be able guiltlessly focus on some of the ideas I’ve had wandering in my head for quite some time. Something more personal and experimental. It’s more of a Fine Art Children Photography then my usual documentary and lifestyle.

Sometime ago, I came across a painting, and after seeing one I wanted to see more. And I have discovered A. Andrew Gonzalez:

And when I was going through his paintings I had an idea…

And I couldn’t wait any longer. And that’s good because I’m still waiting with blogging about my recent sessions for everybody to send and receive their Christmas cards. While waiting, I’ll fill the quietness in here with pictures of my daughters. Those two have surprisingly been very happy/willing to get in front of my camera. Probably, because we have been doing stuff that’s a little different from our usual.

Of course there’s a little bribing involved into the whole process. You see, to get this photograph:

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and this:

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I had to agree to take this picture first:

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Her cow is her life companion, and leaving her out of the frame is always a challenge. Not to mention additional 20 stuffed toys she owns, and sleeps with, but we settled for a portraits with only two of them this time.

 And while creating we also had fun doing some face relaxation exercises 😉

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before getting into the pose:

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And finally the piece I was hoping to get. And I got it.

fine art children's photography palo alto ewa samples photography

I have to admit if feels wonderful to get the ideas out, and work through them.

One down, three more to work on (as of right now).

if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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Breastfeeding Portraits for La Leche League South Bay { San Jose Portrait and Family Photographer, CA}

Few weeks ago I was invited to participate in an amazing event organized by La Leche League South Bay – Annual Potluck “Live, Love, Latch”. I had such a wonderful time taking portraits of those beautiful breastfeeding mammas!

I was the photographer and the videographer in one! It was pretty tricky but I managed. I just simply couldn’t pass on this awesome opportunity to create memories from this event for myself !

 

enjoy your beautiful day
Ewa

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How to win your free, professional, dream photo session?

win your dream photo session_ewasamplesphotography

I have planned to do it for a LONG, LONG time! Always wanted to find a special moment, or special inspiration, or special something to announce it, until I finally decided to do it. Because there is never more appropriate moment to do something then now. Putting things aside often ends with not doing them at all.

As photographers we always need to pick a niche in which we want to create the most of our pictures and get paid for them. Mine is Natural Light Family Photography. But I would be lying if I said I am not interested and wouldn’t want to try different kind of photography.

This post is to express my need for creating something more original and unique. To do that I need a person willing to work with me, someone understating and patient, and someone who more than anything wants to have a fun session!

I have recently talked with several of my clients (all moms) during our photo sessions and I was positively surprised that they were talking about wanting to do more creative photo shoots. I have learned that just like me, many moms have their own “dream photos” they would want to have done. They are definitely not family photos with kids, husbands, in nice, elegant clothes, smiling to the camera! Some of them are very dark and moody! When I learned about it…

…this is when the idea of running this contest was born.

To ENTER the contest:

– go to my Facebook page and leave comment with your idea of a “dream session” in the comment area under this post (you can describe it with words, or upload a picture, or a link to a website, Pinterest board, etc)

– it would be nice if you liked my page first but it’s not required (as I prefer real fans and followers over forced ones!)

THE WINNER will have chance to recreate with me his/her “dream session”.

– PERSON WITH THE MOST LIKES ON HER/HIS COMMENT WILL WIN THE CONTEST!

and just so you know I probably will not be able to do underwater photography, airplane jumping photography or nude photography. I also want to say that the word “RECRETE” is used here very freely, loosely. If you use a certain photograph or certain style of a photographer as an example of your dream session I will not try to copy that image/style in 100%. We will simply try to “be inspired” by the given photo or the style. 

The contest will end on June 10th. The “dream session” will take a place in San Jose/Cupertino Area.

For a small encouragement, I will share as first:

– These are photos by Caroline White Photography (www.carolinewhitephotography.com), whom I adore! And if I could work with her it would be dream come true!

caroline white photography

Photo Credits Caroline White Photography – www.carolinewhitephotography.com

Now it’s your turn!

 

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If you’d like to chat about your session with me, please email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com 
Also, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter and in return get on an exclusive list of mini-sessions, and model calls. 

Hope to hear from you soon, 
Ewa, your Family Photographer

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